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We have taken a short pause in our tests of multi-channel SATA RAID controllers, but only to return to this subject once again now. This review is about a four-channel controller from Silicon Image, officially called Sil 3114 SATALink 4-Port PCI Host Controller.

The manufacturer’s website says the optimal price to performance ratio was the priority in the development of that solution. This chip has long been around – you may have met it on mainboards or external PCI controllers. So, it seems like it’s all right with the price factor. Let’s now evaluate the performance.

The Sil 3114 host-controller is based on the namesake chip from Silicon Image. It supports up to four SerialATA-150 hard disk drives as well as any SATA 1.0 compatibles. The list of supported RAID types includes JBOD, RAID0, RAID1 and RAID10. Thanks to the controller’s ability to work in a 32-bit/66MHz PCI slot, its maximum theoretical bandwidth is 266MB/s. The controller has 128KB of memory to store the BIOS; the memory can be expanded by adding in up to 4MB of external flash memory.

The following table lists the characteristics of the device:

Silicon Image Sil 3114 SATALink 4-Port Controller Features

RAID

JBOD, 0, 1 and 10

SerialATA

4 SerialaATA 150. Compatible with SATA 1.0 standard

PCI

32bit 33/66MHz PCI. Compatible with PCI 2.3 standard

Flash

Supports up to 4MB of external memory

Closer Look

The small-size SATALink Sil 3114 chip (it is to the right of the center in the snapshot above) allows designing controllers within an extensive form-factor range. This time the host-controller is compact, but its fastening bracket can only be used in standard system cases, so we can’t call it a low-profile device. To the right of the Sil 3114 chip, there’s a socket for external flash memory. Considering the amount of free space on the PCB, they could have made the controller even smaller, but the minimal length is limited by the size of the PCI slot.

 
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